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Oct 8, 2014

You made all the right moves the last few years, difficult as they may have been.

You took a firm hold of the leadership mantle, turned a discerning eye to your business and streamlined operations to ensure your organization would remain viable.

Yet, as anxious as you are to let out a sigh of relief, something tells you that you can’t exhale all your pent-up concern just yet.

And for good reason.

60% of employees intend to change jobs

An alarming survey from Right Management found that voluntary employee turnover is expected to rise and that 60 percent of employees intend to change jobs in the next year. Another 21 percent are updating their resumes and actively networking for new opportunities.

Think about that for a moment. As the economy continues to recover, 81 percent of workers are unhappy with their jobs and are seriously considering leaving because they’re feeling overworked and under-appreciated by their leaders. While you were doing what may have been necessary for organizational survival, many employees felt neglected or taken advantage of in the process.

Ignoring the data won’t change the outcome. Only when leaders themselves take ownership of this challenge and begin to take action will we have a chance of preventing employees’ intentions from becoming reality.

It’s a fallacy to think that employees have no place to go in a still-soft economy. The best workers are mobile in any economy, says Douglas Matthews, President and COO at Right Management. He says:

We know that people are attracted by career development opportunities, attaining work-life balance, and working for an innovative company culture. If management doesn’t provide employees with these opportunities, then workers are going to take their knowledge and skills elsewhere. Talented staff can change jobs because they can and want to.”

They won’t stay if their needs aren’t met

Matthews’ assessment concurs with research by the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University. In Leadership and the Performance of People in Organizations: Enriching Employees and Connecting People, researchers assert we’re in the midst of a people-led economy where employees simply won’t stay if their needs aren’t met.

Companies are dependent on talent more than ever, yet talent is growing more selective about where they’ll work. Employees are in the best position to accelerate the economic recovery, if we can engage them in giving their best efforts. They’re also increasingly becoming the key connection to the other stakeholders upon whom our businesses depend.

The FORUM suggests that optimizing these “human value connections” has become a vital component for corporate success and offers an Enrichment Leadership Model that is instructive for leaders hoping to stem the tide of a massive workforce exodus.

The focus must be on employees

Leaders must realize employees are as vital to corporate survival as stockholders, suppliers and customers. Employees want to be led by those who recognize and appreciate them, and who afford them the opportunity to be challenged and enriched by their work.

This is no time to loosen your grip on the leadership mantle: turn your focus onto your employees. Otherwise, your organization may be a lonely place in 2015.

The post originally appeared in a somewhat different form on

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